Realtek Ameba is a family of WiFi ARM Cortex M3 micro-controllers for IoT applications, and RTL8710AF got some buzz last year, as modules would sell as low as $2, hereby competing with ESP8266 in terms of price. While the solution was interesting, the community activity around the solution has been slow as ESP8266 already have the community and software support. Other Realtek RTL8195AM and RTL8711AM processors offer much more memory, but at the time, price was not as attractive with Ameba Arduino board based on RTL8195AM selling for $25. But there’s now a new Arduino compatible board made by ShenzhenRAK Wireless Technology (RAK) that comes with RTL8711AM processor with 1MB ROM, 2MB SDRAM, 512KB SRAM, and up to 64MB SPI flash, and sells for just $8.80 + shipping on Aliexpress.
- WiFi Module – RAK473 with Realtek RTL8711AM ARM Cortex M3 MCU @ 166 MHz, 1MB ROM, 2MB SDRAM, 512KB SRAM
- External Storage – Up to 64MB SPI flash (unclear how much is installed by default if any).
- Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi 1×1 with PCB antenna on module, up to 400 ~ 500 meters range
- USB – 1x micro USB port for power and programming
- Expansion – Arduino UNO compatible header with I2C, digital IO, Analog inputs, UART, GPIOs, 3.3V, 5V, and GND
- Debugging – JTAG/SWD header
- Misc – WPS, Easyconfig, N/R, T/R and reset buttons; configuration jumpers
- Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port.
The board can be programmed with a fork the Arduino IDE called CREATER IDE. There is a lot of documentation available in the Wiki and download section, but only for RAK473 module. I did not find much specific to WisKey or CREATOR board even in their github account. In case you have questions, they have a support center / forum in English. The company also explains that due to memory constraints in RTL8710AF processor, you have to choose between web server, SSL, MQTT or MDNS functions, while RTL8711AM can run all four simultaneously thanks to the 2MB SDRAM. Other hardware differences are shown in the table below.
RAK473 module itself is sold for $5 + shipping in single unit. RAKWireless is also doing all sorts of other WiFi, LoRa, and WiFi video/camera modules, as well as some other Wiskey boards. You may want to check their website for details.
Via RTL8710 Forum.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
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